Garden Tips for August

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Control ants by storing food in airtight containers; make sure to clean up any food crumbs or spills. Keep ants out by caulking cracks and crevices that provide entryways into your home. If necessary, use bait stations made with boric acid, but be sure to place them out of the reach of children and pets. If ants are a problem on shrubs or trees, band the trunks with a product such as Tanglefoot.


Fire Blight affects apples, pears and related ornamentals. Growing tips and branches appear burned, often with a dark oozing liquid. Prune off at least 8-12 inches below the infected area. Discard all diseased wood and clean pruners with a strong bleach solution after each cut.

3Prune hydrangeas to control size and shape. Cut off older stems that have flowered. For large flower clusters, reduce the number of stems. For lots of smaller flowers, keep lots of nicely spaced stems.


Yellowjackets and wasps can be aggressive when defending their nests, so avoid the area if possible. When eating outdoors, keep all foods well covered.  Place a piece of meat or an open soda at a good distance away from your table to lure them away.


Deep Tree Watering should be done about twice during the summer. Trees planted in the lawn get topical watering but still need occasional deep watering. Don’t let sprinklers hit the trunk of the tree as this can cause crown rot. Use a soaker or drip hose around the drip line and let water slowly run for 2 to 3 hours. A mature ornamental or street tree may not need any water. Mature fruit trees should be watered every 3 to 4 weeks. Young fruit trees need watering every 2 weeks or more.


Bitter Pit is a physiological disorder that affects many varieties of apples. Bitter pit develops after fruit has been picked. It is caused by low levels of calcium in fruit tissues. Affected fruit will develop small brown, sunken lesions that becomes dark and corky. Fruit that develops on vigorous, leafy, upright growing branches is more likely to be affected than fruit growing on spurs or horizontal wood. Highly susceptible cultivars include: Red Delicious, Granny Smith, Golden Delicious, Jonathan and Gravenstein. The condition is generally caused by vigorous leaf growth, poor fruit set, and hot, dry growing conditions that cause calcium to divert to the leaves. Spraying with a calcium nitrate solution (1/2 teaspoon per gallon of water) just after bloom and again six weeks later may help.


Tomato Russet Mites deplete the juice from the cells of leaves, stems and fruit.  They usually start at the base of the plant and move upwards. If not controlled, pests can kill plants. At first sign of damage, treat with sulfur dust or a spray solution of wettable sulfur and spreader-sticker.


Tomato psyllid injects a toxin that causes curling of leaves on preflowering plants, stunting, yellowing of leaves and, if untreated, the death of the plant. The adults are very small (1/10 of an inch) and resemble a cicada. They have white or yellowish markings on the thorax, clear wings, and lines on their abdomens. They lay white eggs (which quickly turn pink) on the underside of leaves. For organic control, a Spinosad spray such as Entrust can be used.


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